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Plasmids contribute to food processing environment–associated stress survival in three Listeria monocytogenes ST121, ST8, and ST5 strains

Naditz, Annabel L., Dzieciol, Monika, Wagner, Martin, Schmitz-Esser, Stephan
International journal of food microbiology 2019 v.299 pp. 39-46
Listeria monocytogenes, benzalkonium chloride, disinfectants, food pathogens, food processing, food production, genes, heat, hydrogen peroxide, lactic acid, listeriosis, oxidative stress, pH, plasmids, salinity, salt stress, sodium chloride, stress response, temperature
Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen responsible for the disease listeriosis and is commonly isolated from food and food production facilities. Many L. monocytogenes strains contain plasmids, though the contributions of plasmids to survival in food production environments are unknown. Three L. monocytogenes ST5, ST8, and ST121 strains containing plasmids, which harbor putative stress response genes, were cured of their plasmids. Wildtype (WT) and plasmid-cured strains were exposed to disinfectant, oxidative, heat, acid, or salt stress. After stress exposure, cells were plated for colony forming unit (CFU) counts to determine survivors. L. monocytogenes WT strains exposed to 0.01% (vol/vol) H2O2, 1% (vol/vol) lactic acid, and 15% (wt/vol) NaCl, pH 5 showed significantly higher counts of survivors compared to the plasmid-cured strains. The number of survivors for the ST5 WT strain exposed to 10 μg/mL benzalkonium chloride (BC) was significantly higher than in the plasmid-cured strain. The ST8 and ST5 strains were exposed to elevated temperature (50° and 55 °C respectively); only the ST5 WT strain had significantly higher numbers of survivors than the plasmid-cured strains. Our data revealed that L. monocytogenes ST5, ST8, and ST121 plasmids contribute to tolerance against elevated temperature, salinity, acidic environments, oxidative stress and disinfectants.